Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the federal government has deployed enormous resources to address the challenges of education and health, in its efforts to address human capital development and related issues in the country.

Osinbajo said this Saturday in his virtual opening speech at the Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola 2021 Leadership Symposium on “Government and Grand Development: Realities and Solutions for Nigeria” held to mark the birthday of the Minister of the Interior , Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

Explaining the circumstances under which governments may need to intervene directly, especially in human capital development, the Vice President said: “Direct state (government) intervention is crucial. You cannot have such conditions (as in the country) and not have direct government intervention. “

His words: “The point is that for many of the challenges that a developing economy faces, there is very little immediate profit in the long term for private actors to meet these challenges, but of course there are enormous challenges. social and economic benefits in the medium and long term. gains to be harvested.
“In order to fill this gap, government must step in, government must step in. This intervention, in my opinion, is the stakes of great development. How do you educate Africa’s largest youth population? How do you ensure health care for this large number of people and for all the problems? These are the big development issues we are facing. And we must be able to find solutions to it. “

Highlighting some specific interventions by the federal government, Osinbajo said: “In our first budget, we allocated 500 billion naira to our social investment program. 500,000 young graduates were engaged in the N-Power program and 9.5 million children were fed daily as part of the school feeding program (just before COVID-19) in 34 states.
“The program employs over 135,000 cooks and over 100,000 smallholder farmers linked to the program, providing local ingredients. At one point, that translated into 594 cattle, 138,000 chickens, 6.8 million eggs, 83 metric tonnes of fish, which are bought, prepared and distributed every week. The higher results for student enrollment in school, retention, and student performance have all been empirically verified.

“There was also the government program for business and empowerment (GEEP) – TraderMoni, MarketMoni initiatives where microcredits were offered to traders (around 2 million traders in total)”.
The vice president also explained that “these programs are important because they are in many ways government efforts to directly create opportunities. A country like ours clearly needs a social protection program, a situation in which those who cannot work and those who do not have a job and the most vulnerable have access to a way to earn something and have opportunities. “

In the health sector, he declared, “since the creation of this administration, we have made some other actions of direct social investment type aimed at the development of human capital.

“After the passage of the National Health Law in 2014, the federal government started in 2018 to include the minimum part of 1% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund – amounting to 55 billion naira to finance the provision of basic health care (BHCPF). The Fund is designed to provide a guaranteed package of health services to all Nigerians, through the national network of primary health care centers. “

He noted that in the education sector, the federal government, since 2015, has disbursed over 170 billion naira in matching grants to states and the CTF under the Universal Basic Education Program, 8 billion naira in special education grants to states and private special education providers, and 34 billion dollars from the teachers’ professional development fund to states and the CTF.

The vice president added that the interventions were in line with “the administration’s commitment to lift 100 million people out of poverty”, noting that “we recognize the threats posed by social immobility and deprivation”.

Responding to a question about the cost of running the public service, Osinbajo said the emphasis should be “on people being in the right place in the public service.” We have a large public service, but you still have huge shortages, for example in the health and education sectors. So there are massive shortages in many areas of the public service while you find layoffs in other aspects of the public service.

According to him, “we should train and hire more teachers, nurses, doctors and many other people in the public service, and we could end up with more or less the same cost. But I believe that these costs themselves, as long as we spend them properly, as long as they are spent on the right quality of public servants, are costs that we should bear.

“I’m not sure that willy-nilly cost reduction is the long-term solution. Of course we find in the public service, so many unskilled people, a lot of jobs are reproduced, huge layoffs, we have to correct these layoffs, we have to make sure that those who are not qualified are either retrained, either we let them go.

“But we have to make sure we don’t get caught up in a way of thinking that suggests that the problem is really just the cost of governance, so if we just downsize we’ll be fine. I think the problem is a little bigger than that. I think we really need to look at professionalizing our civil service, ensuring that we have the right quality of people in the right jobs, ”Osinbajo added.

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